Crystal Springs Uplands School submitted a new application for a Belmont middle school, the first official move since it purchased the Davis Drive property late last year and a new council was elected.
The City Council will vote tonight on whether to begin an environmental impact report, said Community Development Director Carlos de Melo.
The private school’s application calls for the construction of a secondary campus to house up to 240 sixth- through eighth-graders and up to 40 employees at the 6.46-acre property.
CSUS and the city’s relationship has been rocky since the council denied the school’s application in October 2012. With seeming regret, former councilmembers encouraged the school to reapply, but the property was no longer for sale. CSUS surprised the council last November when it announced it had purchased the property, a risky move not having entitlements.
Although most of the application is a replica of the 2012 original, CSUS will essentially be starting from scratch.
“The application looks remarkably similar to the one we proposed in August of 2012. The terms are the same, except we’re proposing an indoor swimming pool and to conduct a new traffic survey,” said Jill Grossman, a member of the CSUS Board of Trustees.
The school is proposing to demolish the current 84,500 square feet of commercial office space and construct 60,000 square feet of school facilities comprised of a main academic building, a gymnasium and an outdoor synthetic athletic field, according to a CSUS application letter.
The buildings would primarily be two stories and the design would achieve the equivalent of an environmentally friendly LEED Silver rating, according to the letter.
In its original application, it proposed constructing an outdoor pool at a later date. However, an indoor pool would help to mitigate noise concerns, Grossman said.
The school also plans on incorporating more recent traffic data into its new survey to address residents’ concerns about the impacts related to its proposed facility, Grossman said.
Conducting a traffic survey needs to involve input from those who understand it best, the residents, said Mayor Warren Lieberman.
“I think how they may address the traffic concerns is probably a dialogue that they need to have with the community. … The community understands the traffic problems and [is] in a stronger position to suggest how traffic problems can be mitigated,” Lieberman said.
Councilman Eric Reed hopes CSUS will remain diligent in working closely with the city and residents.
“Resident concerns need to be addressed by the CSUS proposal. So I’m glad that they’re taking it seriously,” Reed said.
Being a good neighbor is at the crux of CSUS’s application, Grossman said.
“In resuming this application we know that noise is a concern, so we want to be sure we’re listening to our neighbors and working with the city,” Grossman said.
The city will be able to reap benefits from the deal, including a one-time payment of $1 million and $250,000 per year in-lieu of property taxes, Grossman said.
“We believe it’s going to bring a benefit to Belmont, and obviously bring a benefit to CSUS. In terms of benefits to Belmont, outside of the obvious financial benefit, they’ll be able to share our all-weather soccer field,” Grossman said.
Through a joint-use agreement with the Belmont Parks and Recreation Department, the synthetic turf soccer field would be accessible to the public on weekends and three weeks during the summer, according to the letter.
Belmont can also capitalize on resources CSUS is expending on evaluating traffic problems within the surrounding area, Lieberman said.
“[CSUS is] not the cause of the current traffic problems. But I believe between the financial aspects and what they do, they may be able to help us with some of the traffic problems that we have today,” Lieberman said.
It will take time for the issues surrounding a large development like CSUS is proposing to be resolved, however Lieberman is excited because “it’s a discussion that the council was never allowed to have the first time around.”
“I’m thrilled that CSUS remains interested in locating a middle school in Belmont. I know that there is a lot of interest on the part of the community in seeing whether or not an arrangement can be constructed that will be good for the community as well as for CSUS,” Lieberman said. “I believe that is possible and I look forward to the potential discussion at the council level.”
A significant amount of time will pass before Belmont welcomes CSUS as new neighbors. Before a genuine timeline is developed, the school will start by paying $48,000 to begin an environmental study after which it’ll need to be approved, de Melo said.
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